Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leila Mulla: Women and the happiness gene

For optimists, like Leila Mulla, happiness is a matter of choice. But a recent study reveals that there may be more to just wanting to be happy.

Leila Mulla Image Credit: Tickledbylife.com

A University of South Florida research shows that women may be more inclined to be happy than men because it is in their genes. It reveals that a low-expression form of the gene monoamine oxidase A (MAOA)—the “happiness gene” as Dr. Henian Chen, lead researcher of the study, calls it—seems to give women good feelings, but it doesn’t have the same effect in men. MAOA controls the activity of an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, dopamine, and other feel-good brain chemicals.

If there is one thing certain in Leila Mulla’s life, it would be the fact that she loves filling her life with positive thoughts and vibes.

Leila Mulla Image Credit: Simplehealthguide

The low-expression version MAOA leads to higher levels of monoamine, which, in turn, allows larger amounts of these neurotransmitters to stay in the brain and boost mood. The researchers found that women with even just one copy of the low-activity type of MAOA were much happier than women with no copies. Meanwhile, men who carried a copy of the “happy” version of the MAOA gene reported no more happiness than those without it. Dr. Chen and his co-authors suggest that the presence of testosterone may cancel out the positive effect of MAOA on happiness in men.

Perhaps not all may subscribe to what Dr. Chen and his team revealed. After all, there have been numerous attempts to define happiness and identify its sources. But whatever school of thought one may adhere to, for Leila Mulla and her fellow positivists, happiness is for everybody’s enjoyment.

Leila Mulla Image Credit: Elaine.Smith10

For more happy musings, follow this Twitter account.

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